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Math vs. Maths

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  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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If you ever got into contact with the word "mathematics", you have certainly also seen at least one of the nouns from the pair "math" and "maths". But which one is correct? How do you spell it shortly, "math" or "maths"? Let's take a quick look upon this linguistic confusion to make sure you get it right.

Math vs. Maths

Both "math" and "maths" are abbreviations for the word "mathematics", the complex science that studies numbers and shapes. We can't claim that any of these abbreviated forms is right or wrong, because they are just shorter versions for the full noun ("mathematics"). Whether you prefer adding the last "s" or not is a matter of personal choice and culture, according to how you've been educated in school and how you have seen it spelled more frequently.

There are, anyway, some statistics that show how often "math" and "maths" are used. It turns out that, just as it happens for other pairs of words that differ through only one letter, the frequency of use regarding the different abbreviations differs from British to Americans. Here's how:

When do we use "maths"?

"Maths" is the abbreviation preferred by the British. In the UK, they say that "mathematics" ends in "s" and so should its short form. It's more likely that if you ask a British person, they would tell you they prefer "maths" as they have seen it spelled like this all the time.

When do we use "math"?

"Math" is preferred by the Americans, not only because they usually go for the shorter forms, but also because they consider "mathematics" is a mass noun that takes singular verbs and should, therefore, be abbreviated without the "s" in the end.

Conclusion

"Math" and "maths" are not complete words on their own and. As abbreviations, they can't be considered wrong or right. Choosing a form will be partially influenced by your personal choice and logic, and partially by the region where you've learned to spell it. British use "maths" more often and Americans prefer "math", but this does not define any rule for correct spelling.

Math vs. Maths

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2 Comments

  • Not correct. A contraction or abbreviation which finishes in the last letter of the full word does not require a qualification in the form of a period (full stop). Therefore Maths is correct. Math. Is correct. Math is incorrect. As this rule is most common in the US, it logically follows, that those who use the term Math. the most should follow it. 
    LikeReply1 month ago
    • are there any other examples of this? it seems to be a single use case scenario, where mathematics is somewhat unique in being an endless plural form with an s at the end where other examples (politics) will get shortened to pol or pol. and not pols An exception seems arbitrary. 
      LikeReply18 days ago
    • Felicity Chevalier. Pol is incorrect. Math is incorrect. Pol. Is correct. Math. Is correct. It’s not arbitrary.
      LikeReply18 days ago
  • Also, if you are an American working at NPR always add the "s" as a sophisification signifier.
    LikeReply 311 months ago

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